Breaking Travel News interview: Lee Seow Hiang, chief executive, Changi Airport Group
Having been recognised as the World’s Leading Airport by the World Travel Awards, Singapore Changi Airport is not resting on its laurels. With a new terminal under construction, chief executive Lee Seow Hiang here sits down with Breaking Travel News to bring us up to date.
Breaking Travel News: Can you tell us a little about the latest developments at Changi Airport? What are you doing to ensure the location remains the pre-eminent destination in the region?
Lee Seow Hiang: In terms of new projects at Changi Airport, we have begun a number of infrastructural projects to ensure that Changi Airport is well-positioned to remain a major global aviation hub, ready to meet the challenges of growing passenger and aircraft traffic in the years ahead.
These include the development of our new Terminal 4 and ancillary works to increase the number of aircraft parking stands.
T4 is expected to be completed by 2017, with a planned capacity of 16 million passenger movements a year.
It will raise Changi Airport’s handling capacity to 82 million a year and help ensure that the passenger experience at Changi is not compromised even as passenger traffic grows.
Throughout its history, Changi Airport has always stayed ahead of its capacity needs. This approach has underpinned Changi’s success as an air hub – an airport that passengers love and airlines appreciate.
Along with the measures announced by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore to improve runway capacity, our infrastructure investments over the next four to five years will lay the groundwork for us to continue delivering a great Changi Experience and attracting more airlines to fly to Changi Airport.
BTN: Changi welcomed over 50 million passengers for the first time in its 31-year history in 2012. Do you feel this upward growth in number is sustainable?
LSH: Traffic growth at Changi Airport in its 31-year history has averaged about six per cent each year.
The stronger growth in the past three years has been due to a solid recovery in air travel demand following the global financial crisis of 2008. In 2012, we saw our strongest traffic growth on routes to Northeast Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia and Southwest Pacific.
We believe that the Asia Pacific region will remain a robust aviation market anchored by the large economies of China, India and Indonesia.
Having said this, the global economic outlook remains cloudy. In the near term, Changi Airport’s performance will depend largely on how economies, especially in Asia, adjust.
We are confident that our strong partnership with our stakeholders will see the airport through the challenges that lie ahead.
BTN: Can you bring us up to date on the construction of the fourth terminal at Changi?
LSH: The new Terminal 4 will be a two-storey building that we hope will delight passengers in terms of its facilities as well as retail and F&B offerings.
It will be a better quality product than the old Budget Terminal.
We expect the terminal to be ready by 2017.
T4 will be designed to meet the operational needs of both regional full service and low cost carriers.
To enhance passenger convenience, accessibility and experience, especially in adverse weather conditions, aerobridges will be available at its boarding gates.
Passengers transferring to the other terminals will also be able to do so without the need to clear immigration.
BTN: In what ways does the growth of Singapore as a tourism destination benefit the development of Changi?
LSH: As Changi Airport is the major gateway into Singapore, the continued growth of Singapore as a tourism destination is evidently beneficial for us.
Hence, we do work closely with partners like the Singapore Tourism Board and Singapore based airlines to promote Singapore as a destination of choice.
At the same time, we believe a great airport experience also enhances the Singapore holiday for tourists.
We are proud to be the welcome point for millions of visitors to Singapore each year, and strive to ensure that, for them, the Changi Experience is very much a part of their visit to our country.
BTN: Changi Airport was recognised as the World’s Leading Airport by the prestigious World Travel Awards in 2012. What do you think caught the judges’ attention?
LSH: We are honoured to be voted the World’s Leading Airport by the World Travel Awards once again.
We are pleased that our focus on service excellence, enhanced by the offerings provided by the Changi Experience, has resonated well amongst industry professionals and the travelling public.
Our vision to make the airport experience a first class one is something we strive to continually achieve.
As an example, beautifully-curated horticultural decorations and art pieces around the airport make Changi Airport a serene place to pass through on what could have been a stressful journey from one city to another.
We remain steadfast in upholding and enhancing the Changi. Experience so that passengers and airport visitors alike continue to discover delightful moments while at Changi.
BTN: Do you plan to use this accolade in marketing activities for Changi at all?
LSH: Definitely. We are proud to be the world’s most awarded airport with over 420 awards since 1981.
Such accolades and recognition spur us to always improve, pushing us to continually top our standards.
For more information on the latest developments at Changi Airport head over to the official website.